Several additional member countries who will join the BRICS bloc will be announced today, at the BRICS summit, according to Stavros Nicolaou, the head of the BRICS Business Council.
Speaking to Business Report yesterday, Nicolaou said these countries were not members, but would become from today.
“I suspect there might be an African country that would join,” he said.
The BRICS summit which is held in Sandton from 22 to 24 August, is where the BRICS group of major emerging economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa meet.
According to Nicolaou, the continental free trade topic was one of the areas of focus of the BRICS discussions.
“Building that bridge between the free trade area and BRICS is relevant. The relevance of that is that Africa is very much a frontier for the future.
“It is going to become a market whose population will double in size by 2050, whose GDP (gross domestic product) will grow around three and a half by 2050. It's also a young continent with young people who are tech-savvy. It's important to have the bridge between BRICS and Africa,” he said.
Nicolaou said the uneven trade patterns still existed, but there had been some encouraging signs that these might be in the process of being ironed out.
“Last week, there was an inward buying mission that was concluded from China to export deals worth R40 billion. So these are going to be South African products that are going to be exported to China.
“There are ongoing discussions, terms of adding additional sectors, additional products, including pharmaceuticals that are happening. Do I expect us to close trade deficits? I don't, but I expect us to use trade deficits as an opportunity to have more inward buying missions and to start exporting more value-added finished products out of South Africa,” he said.
On the rumoured BRICS currency, Nicolaou reiterated the sentiment of Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana, saying it was too early for BRICS member nations to have their own currency.
“It is too early to say because putting together a new currency, it's very complex. So it’s quite a complex thing to do. I think we’ll have to follow the guidance of the of the finance minister,” he said.
Nicolaou said the summit was important for South Africa.
“It's not every day that you get to host 40 to 50 heads of state. However, we're also very clear as a business community that we can't, of course, only look to go with BRICS. We have to work with the West, the East, and the South, and we've got to put where our best interest lies as a priority, where our base business and investment interest lie. That's where we've got a place for focus and emphasis.
“I think that's something that we work quite harder to get that delicate balance because, at the end of the day, our economy is struggling at the moment. It's pedestrian at best, and I think we need to look and seize on all the opportunities, whether they lie in East, West, or South. The South is becoming interesting because of the African continental free trade area,” he said.